Formula 1: German giant at the crucial point

On December 9th, the billions in expenses for the next five years will be determined in the planning round at VW headquarters in Wolfsburg. The German automobile giant is fighting hard for the money for new systems and investments. On December 15, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) and its World Motorsport Council will meet in Paris. The committee could then lay down the new engine regulations from 2026. This is seen as a great opportunity for Audi or Porsche or both.

Formula 1 makes the adoption dependent on a binding and long-term commitment – at least from one of the two VW subsidiaries. After all, the racing series also accommodated the two brands with a rule compromise: from 2026, the hybrid engines are to be run on 100 percent sustainable fuel. The combustion engine in the unit should only contribute 50 percent of the power, the rest is electric.

Reuters/Stephane Mahe

The Audi brand will return to the battle for victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2023

Anticipation at Mercedes

Representatives from Audi and Porsche were involved in preliminary discussions, above all the former head of Porsche Motorsport Fritz Enzinger. At the end of September, after ten years at the helm of Porsche’s motorsport department, the Styrian retired to his role as overall manager of all motorsport activities of the VW Group – probably to concentrate on the Group’s Formula 1 strategy. The contacts to F1 managing director Stefano Domenicali, who once worked for Audi, are also said to have been helpful.

The long-standing “top dog” in the premier class is already looking forward to a test of strength on the racetrack: “It’s great that there are strong manufacturers who are interested in entering the sport,” said Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff Weeks. He considers certain concessions to possible newcomers to be justified. “On the other hand, Formula 1 is the Champions League. Nobody can expect to take part in the Champions League for the first time, go straight to the final and go home with the big trophy, ”said the Viennese.

Many questions unanswered

There are enough open questions about how to get started. First and foremost, whether the company is really implementing the plan. It is also open with which brand – Porsche or Audi – one would approach the costly engagement. It is speculated whether VW will take over an existing racing team or just get in as a partner. Most recently, there was a takeover of the McLaren Group by Audi. McLaren loudly rejected this.

McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo in action.

APA/AFP/Karim Jaafar

McLaren was recently the focus of speculation as to where the VW group could get in

The company was also reluctant. “We do not comment on rumors and water level reports,” said an Audi spokesman. The car manufacturer is “constantly working on ideas for cooperation with various partners”. The tightened budget limit in Formula 1, which will drop to 135 million dollars per year per racing team from 2023, does not make a factory commitment any less interesting.

Porsche, on the other hand, was not initially associated with Red Bull. As an engine partner, however, you are not automatically represented in the name. You would have to pay extra for the lettering on the car. After all, there would be a high probability of being able to drive for victories quickly with Dietrich Mateschitz’s team, for whom Verstappen is fighting for the world title. Because Audi and Porsche not only want to participate when they join, they also want to showcase their technical superiority.

CEO struck

Above all, the personnel situation at the top of the group is causing uncertainty. VW boss Herbert Diess is struck. The question of his future in the top position could also play a role in the decision on direction for Formula 1. Diess was recently sharply criticized after he brought a number of possibly up to 30,000 redundant jobs into play in the transformation of the group to electromobility. One wants to be competitive “in the new world”, he said now. However, this is in contradiction to an involvement in Formula 1 that costs hundreds of millions of euros.

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Formula 1: German giant at the crucial point